New to the franchise? Want to know which games to get first? This series is for you.
With Halo 5: Guardians' release imminent, I thought I'd take the time to make a weekly series, in the vein of Wilc0's Halo 101, reviewing each of the Halo games up to this point, and then top it off at the end with a review of Halo 5 itself. Starting with Halo: CE, it will run right through to the 8th of November, by which time I will have played enough Halo 5 to give it a fair review. Finally, on the 15th of November (which, coincidentally, is my birthday) I'll top the series off with a top 10 list of the best Halo games of all time.
Some games will be grouped together, such as Halo PC and Halo: CE. Additionally, graphics will not be discussed in these reviews (art styles and framerates may, though) because we're reviewing retro games here - the original Xbox couldn't handle 1080p. While this series is mainly for those who either cannot play these games due to lack of time or money (or those who (rightly) don't trust review sites), feel free to read and share your thoughts if you have played. Oh, and don't worry: I haven't been paid by Microsoft to give good reviews, these are all my honest opinions.
While the strategy felt dumbed down, Halo Wars made an RTS work on a console, a brilliant feat.
Halo Wars was Ensemble's first and only entry into the Halo franchise. It was different to previous games in that it ditched the first-person perspective in favour of an RTS, and it did it well. While the strategy felt slightly dumbed down, for the first time ever, it made an RTS work on a console, and that is a brilliant feat. To bring such a complicated game genre to a gamepad with such limited input* was something that hadn't been done well before.
From a lore and story standpoint, while a few minor discrepancies were created within Halo Wars (which have since been fixed) it mostly fits into the lore well. As for the story, it follows several believable and relatable characters as they battle the Covenant in many locations. The main failing of the story, though, is not the characters, it's the story arc - or rather, the lack of one. Halo Wars seems to encompass many smaller story arcs that eventually lead nowhere. For example (SPOLIERS!) the Super Scarab story arc only seems to serve the purpose of getting Anders captured - we never learn why the Covenant were fortifying that area, or what the artifact on Harvest was 'pointing' at. It's minor things like these that make the story feel slightly disjointed. Nevertheless, once you finally reach Shield 0459, things seem to straighten out.
Because I'm no expert in RTS game design, I'll keep this section brief. The game maintains a reasonably fair difficulty curve. While many strategy game veterans might find the game easy, on Legendary the AI still pose a threat. Some of the levels, namely Scarab and Shield World, took me ages to complete on Legendary.
There are two modes outside of campaign in Halo Wars: Skirmish and Multiplayer. Skirmish allows you to battle AI opponents on any of the multiplayer maps, while Multiplayer allows you to do the same but against real, player opponents. Both are challenging, if you set the right difficulty level. However, in multiplayer, it is often noted by players than an easy way to win is simply a 'rush' tactic, where you simply create as many of a particular unit as you can early on, and attack your opponent while he/she is unprepared. Nevertheless, the Multiplayer in Halo Wars is a fun addition, and is great for playing against friends over Xbox Live.
|For Halo fans, this is a game you'll want to get, especially if you also enjoy RTS games. However, if you're primarily an RTS fan, and not a Halo fan, you may find this game a little on the easy side.|
|It brings Halo to another genre, and in doing shows the universe in a different light, which is never a bad thing.|
|Relatable and realistic characters.|
|Excellent controls for a console RTS.|
|Fun (but unbalanced) Multiplayer and Skirmish modes.|
|Contains a few dead-end story arcs.|
|Slightly over-simplified gameplay, taking a lot out of the genre such as (multiple) resource management.|
|Unbalanced - often 'rush' tactics are the most viable way to win.|
|Few game setup options for Skirmish and Multiplayer|
|No Forge (understandable, but Forge maps in Halo Wars would've been amazing... Once again, this is not detracting from my overall verdict - I'm rating on what's there, not what's not)|
From the beginning; you know the end. Halo: Reach and Halo: CEA will be reviewed next week!
10:31, September 27, 2015 (UTC)
* Limited =/= Bad. I still prefer the Xbox controllers to KB&M because of their simplicity, ergonomics and the fact that unlike KB&M, they were designed for video games.